By Brooke Kremer
Chloe Smith is not your average 13-year-old in any way.
After all, not every eighth-grader gets to do a radio interview that was heard by millions of people.
The Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School student was recently selected by StoryCorps to conduct an interview that was played on National Public Radio. StoryCorps is a non-profit project that aims to enrich lives through listening by recording stories, conversations and interviews to be played on NPR stations across the country.
The recordings are then archived at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
“It’s such a big honor,” Chloe said. “It’s hard to believe it will be in the Library of Congress … forever!”
Chloe was chosen to interview OLA custodian Willie Jackson, a beloved member of the school’s community for 23 years.
Smith, a National Junior Honor Society member, Student Ambassador and member of the volleyball team (among many other activities), was selected by the teachers at OLA to conduct the interview of “Mr. J” in the Buckhead studios of WABE.
“Mr. J has always been there for me,” she said. “Whenever I am feeling blue, he’ll give me a big hug. Suddenly, I’m not so sad. He’s like my grandpa. He’s the grandpa of the school.”
The feeling is mutual. In the interview, Jefferson said, “It’s like the whole school, all the kids, are my family. And I’m going to watch out for you, just like I watch out for [my family].”
In the 40-minute interview, the two talked about Jefferson’s first boss (a nun), his favorite part of the day (lunchtime, when he gets to see all of the kids) and what he thinks about Chloe.
“You always have been a standout person to me,” Jefferson said, “a diplomatic little lady. You’re always solving problems. You got a lot of people that follow you. You’re a little leader — a good kid.”
Chloe shyly said, “Thank you.”
“Mr. Jefferson’s recording speaks volumes about his kindness and his strong bond with our current and past students,” said the school’s principal, Anita Nagel. “She [Smith] is a wonderful student and did an exceptional job during the interview in bringing forth some of Mr. Jefferson’s favorite stories. “
The interview, which aired on NPR radio station WABE 90.1 FM Oct. 23, can be heard by podcast on StoryCorps’ website at www.storycorps.org.